Although mid-November seems horribly early to start thinking about Christmas, you will have noticed that London turned all Christmassy as soon as Halloween was over. So if you want to make the most of all the Christmas fun happening between now and 25th December, here is the summary of what’s worth doing (advance booking recommended!).
- Christmas Grottos are a very popular affair in the UK and happen pretty much everywhere – in shops, museums, historic houses, garden centres… The Harrods one is so popular that it is now by private invitation only!!! Maybe more accessible but still requiring early bookings are the ones at famous toy shop Hamleys, Fortnum&Mason and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland .
- Temporary ice rinks are another big thing and seem to spread all over the place between November and January – having been to a few they are actually great fun ! Weekdays tend to be reasonably quiet but weekends and holidays do definitely require a booking! Among many others, the ice rinks in the prettiest settings are the ones at the National History Museum (25/10 to 20/01), at Somerset House (14/11 to 13/01), at Hampton Court Palace (‘til 06/01) and at Canary Wharf (2/11 to 16/02). And if you have no fear of heights you can try the new one on the rooftop of John Lewis (not sure how you book this one to be honest) or Skylight at Tobacco Dock, definitely not for me!
- Christmas Carols are a lovely British tradition, even more fun if you can sing along! (but now all lyrics are within the reach of a smartphone, so no preparation required!). Most local churches will organise carol services ahead of Christmas , so if you want to get a real communal feeling look-out for these. Another option is to go to Central London to St-Martin-in-the-Fields, St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey or Trafalgar Square.
- **Free and requiring no booking (for a change), the Christmas lights are already on! The best places to see them are Bond Street , Oxford Street , Regent Street and the area around Carnarby Street .
By the way, did you now that 20% of Britons have already found all their Christmas present by now? AArrrrggghhh…